The effects of rising temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, stronger storms, and other climatic changes are already evident in America’s national parks. This makes considering climate change vulnerabilities an integral part of all planning processes. Planning for a Changing Climate helps NPS planners and managers develop robust climate change adaptation strategies to better protect park resources and assets today and for future generations.

Developing climate change adaptation strategies is best done at the beginning of planning, not as an “add-on” after planning is underway. NPS planners and managers can use this guide to identify climate adaptation options across the spectrum of comprehensive, strategic, and implementation plans. The guide’s adaptation planning framework is flexible, so it meets a wide range of planning and management needs. It builds on the interagency adaptation planning approach described in Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice, but tailors that approach to better reflect and address NPS stewardship responsibilities.

Summary of the NPS Adaptation Planning Process

Step 1. Inform the planning process

  • Define scope and current management goals
  • Engage participants and partners
  • Compile relevant background and context information

Step 2. Assess climate vulnerabilities and risks

  • Identify projected climate futures
  • Assess climate vulnerabilities and risks

Step 3. Evaluate climate implications for management goals

  • Assess continued feasibility of current goals
  • Identify modifications or updates for climate-compromised goals

Step 4. Identify potential adaptation strategies

  • Identify array of strategies to address important climate risks

Step 5. Evaluate and select priority adaptation strategies

  • Evaluate and compare promising adaptation strategies
  • Select priority adaptation strategies

Step 6. Implement strategies; track changing conditions and adaptation effectiveness

  • Implement priority adaptation strategies
  • Evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of adaptation strategies and actions
  • Monitor conditions to assess how the future is emerging
  • Document outcomes and adjust actions and plans as needed

Suggested citation:
National Park Service (NPS). 2021. Planning for a Changing Climate: Climate-Smart Planning and Management in the National Park Service. NPS Climate Change Response Program, Fort Collins, CO.

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